Sustainable Blacksburg and the YMCA Cooperate to Improve Household Battery Recycling in Blacksburg
A few of the many different types of “household batteries”.
WHAT ARE “HOUSEHOLD BATTERIES”. As you might expect, a household battery is any battery type that is used in our home or dwelling unit. These would include those used in flashlights and lanterns, toys, computers, phones, power tools, clocks, timers, hearing aids remote-controls, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and other similar electronic devices. The list of household batteries does not usually include batteries used in cars, motorcycles, and other devices used for transportation.
WHY SHOULD WE RECYCLE USED HOUSEHOLD BATTERIES. All batteries contain toxic (poisonous) chemicals – things like lead, cadmium, lithium – chemicals that have been shown to be either carcinogenic or in other ways highly poisonous often in very minute amounts. Industry concentrates these toxins and places them in batteries to make them work well. But, if we discard batteries into our household trash, they go into our landfill, and will eventually find their way into the soil beyond and below the landfill, and get into our groundwater and into the air we breathe. So, how do we keep these poisonous chemicals from getting into our environment? We send the batteries to a regional facility that safely extracts these toxins and carefully uses them in making new batteries and other important products. But, we need to make sure this is done correctly and safely?
A collection box like that used by Blacksburg merchants and other organization in our town.
COLLECTION OF USED HOUSEHOLD BATTERIES FOR RECYCLING. Currently, there are SEVEN collection locations in the Town of Blacksburg (TOB) where you can take household batteries for recycling. Most of these locations have boxes that look like the photo on the right, and your batteries for recycling should be placed into the small removable box that hangs inside the larger, black, plastic box. In most cases, there is a sticker with an arrow pointing to this removable box. See below for a list of merchants and organizations where household batteries can be left for recycling:
- Our local YMCA
- Eats Natural Foods
- Heavener Hardware
- Colley Architects
- The Community Arts Information Office (CAIO)
- Creekmore Law Firm
- Warm Hearth Village (2 locations)
Alkaline and Non-Alkaline batteries that need sorting and possible separation prior to transfer to the MRSWA facility.
HOW CITIZEN’S SHOULD COLLECT & PREPARE BATTERIES FOR TRANSFER TO A COLLECTION LOCATION. The best and safest way to collect batteries at home, for later transfer to a Blacksburg collection facilities, is to collect the used batteries in a small corrugated cardboard box. When you have a battery that should be recycled, look at the words printed on the battery. If you see the word ALKALINE printed on the battery, they can be safely placed directly into he cardboard box. Alkaline batteries contain lead and should be recycled to keep this toxin out of our landfill. Alkaline batteries need NOT be bagged and their terminals do NOT need to be taped!
If the word alkaline, in any language, is NOT printed on the battery, it should be considered a NON-ALKALNE battery. Non-alkaline batteries are often (but not always) rechargeable. Non-alkaline batteries contain toxins such as cadmium, lithium, or mercury, and these toxic ions can be dangerous if they comes in contact with each other . Therefore, each non-alkaline battery should be separately sealed in a transparent plastic bag before it is placed into your cardboard box containing other batteries destined for recycling. Inexpensive snack bags or sandwich bags may be used for this purpose. Each time that you have a battery to recycle, please determine if it is an alkaline or a non-alkaline battery, then separately bag and seal it only if it is a non-alkaline battery. This action will take you no time at all, and it will delight the corps of volunteers who prepare the batteries for transport to MRSWA. The important thing here is to keep each non-alkaline battery from touching any of the other batteries in your cardboard storage box.
Battery collection boxes at the Y Center on North Main Street are located inside this door.
WHAT HAPPENS TO HOUSEHOLD BATTERIES THAT YOU TAKE TO A COLLECTION FACILITY? If you take your used batteries to the YMCA, they are periodically transferred to a collection room also located at the YMCA-Center. Batteries taken to town merchants and other locations are collected by Sustainable-Blacksburg Volunteers and taken to the YMCA collection room. About once each month (or more), volunteers from Sustainable Blacksburg and other local and regional organizations meet to separate alkaline from non-alkaline batteries, to make sure all non-alkaline batteries are separately sealed in plastic bags, and these sorted batteries are placed in an enclosed trailer that is supplied by the Town of Blacksburg (TOB). About once each week, the TOB transports these batteries to the Montgomery Regional Solid Waste Authority (MRSWA) where they are double checked, then transported to a regional facility designed for battery recycling. There the batteries are opened and the toxins are separately extracted so that they may be reused in building new electronic devices.